Race 07

I wonder what next year's will be called?

Having created GTR2, a joyously engineered sim of such fetishistic artistry we expect it to hasten the Second Coming - any day now - SimBin followed it with a dud. RACE just wasn't good enough. Like life, it kind of sucked.

Fortunately, RACE 07 is much better than last year's effort. The improvements come through broadening the experience rather than heightening the quality. RACE still lags when it comes to gorgeous car models or authentic sound, but the extra variety gives its surprisingly solid core a higher billing. The handling, which felt too seaside arcade last time round, is actually more clued-up than it seemed.


You can thank the inclusion of exciting cars for this revelation. Being the official game of the WTCC, everything in the headlining class makes around 300bhp and is front wheel drive - with the exception of the BMW 320s, which make 300bhp and are rear-wheel drive. Touring Cars are undoubtedly good-looking, and you get the whole 2007 and 2006 fields (plus both years' tracks), but to be honest they struggle as a main event. There's definitely an art to getting the best from a front-drive, but it's a careful, patient art.

Now, however, you've also got the rear-drive and somewhat insane Radicals, Formula 3000 and Formula BMWs, plus Caterhams in various excessive configurations. True, the Caterhams (plus the Estoril and Imola tracks) were available as an add-on for last year's, but we've looked into it and there's nothing we can do. Something to do with time travel and paradoxes.

All these unruly psychos are sumptuously fun to drive, especially on RACE 07's standout tracks - the brilliant Macau, the terrifyingly narrow Pau street circuit and the lumpy, swooping Zolder. The varied dynamics are well defined, too, with the slicks and wings of the F3000 cars doing a noticeably better job than the spindly efforts on the FBMWs. Shame the replays often reveal them to be blocky and almost texture-free.

Sadly, the Minis and two 1987 WTCC cars remain unconvincing in a half-finished, what-was-the-point kind of way, but at least they're not the only other option now. And the racing - so often forgotten in the clamour for authenticity - is even stronger than before.

The AI does an impressive job of harassing and punishing mistakes, though the narrow street stuff confuses them into something that looks like rugby. Yet there are enough rules and flags policing the two-race format to really bring a race weekend to life, and it stops well short of the niggling po-faced faffery that can masquerade as 'realism'.

It's dead keen to get you online, too, and the racing there works and is fun. Unless you're trying to beat Randy McWrongway the offensive US teen, of course, or The Second Coming Himself. Which could happen. RACE 07's a big improvement. Any day now.

The verdict

Varied if scruffy fun

Racing / Driving